I didn’t finish the sentence which was a prayer of desperation. I remember the turn signal Jerry, my beloved husband turned on, sounded like a loud echo in slow motion; b-link, b-link, b-link, b-link. The surreal effect made it appear as if I were watching a Hollywood thriller that kept me in a suspense of surprise, shock and horror. Next, I heard the blood curdling sound of tires screeching behind us and I closed my eyes… hoping… praying… and thinking we had made the turn successfully into a driveway and missed what was coming complete with the terror I was feeling.
It was only hours earlier that I paused on my sidewalk and looked around at the beautiful flowers and herbs and then up at a clear blue sky on that bright sunny day. I prayed, “Thank you Father, for my family and everything you have given us.” After praying that prayer, I remember thinking, ‘I’m comfortable.’ It was a peculiar thought mixed with an unsettling feeling of anxiety. Then I recalled hearing a sermon about being comfortable and that God wanted us to come out of our comfort zones.
I shook off the feeling and pushed back in my mind the still small voice I thought I had heard before rushing out of the house. “Stay home.” I said to myself, “What? Why would I want to stay home on a beautiful day like this? It’s the perfect day for looking at properties and houses we might want to buy.”
I heard my husband say, ” Come on, dear, we’re waiting.” Seemed like everything had to be done in a rush that day. I rushed to take Rachel to ride her horse early that morning, I rushed past prayer, and listening to that still small voice was difficult because of rushing. If I’d known what I was rushing toward that day, I’d waited until I was prayed up.
I hurried down the sidewalk, got in the car, sat next to him and looked in the back seat at my beautiful 14 yr. old daughter. She gave me one of those…we’re always waiting on you looks. I didn’t bring up that I had waited on her earlier in the morning when I took her to ride her horse, Tex. Often times, I would jog behind her as she rode into the 50 acre parcel of deep woods at Malabar Farm. On this particular day , I lost her on the trails and waited for a half hour on the steep hill that overlooked the entrance . It was there I would be able to see her coming out of the forest . But, she didn’t even stop. She took off in a fast gallop on the straightway and I could hear her yell, “Yee-Haaaaaaaaaaaa!” I prayed, “Dear Lord, please don’t let her fall off and kill herself!” No, it wouldn’t be the horse that would cause her to hang in the balance of life and death.
I didn’t say anything to my husband about her reckless riding. I couldn’t let the irritation I was feeling wreck the whole weekend… tomorrow was our wedding anniversary. I asked my husband to stop by the realtor’s office in town to pick up listings and then drive over to my friend’s house to drop off a jar of homemade black-raspberry jam. When we had arrived at the second stop, I suggested my husband and daughter go over to the ice cream stand and have a cool treat. We didn’t have the air conditioner charged, so it would help keep them cool on that summer day in July, 2001. I talked a bit much with my friend and told her I didn’t have time to pray before leaving as we usually did. Another rush into the unknown disaster. Looking back, taking time to pray would have delayed me a few minutes more and we all would have missed the crash that took us through hell. I rushed out to the car, jumped in, and was so flustered by their complaining about waiting on me that I did not remember to put my seatbelt on.
It’s ironic… Rachel was a stickler for putting on her seatbelt and reminding me to keep the law, but not on that day. In fact, she took hers off seconds before the crash to look at a road sign that was turned the wrong way. We were about to reach one of the first properties to look at when I said, “Honey, I think we missed Kennard Rd.” After I said that, Rachel got out of her seatbelt and turned around . She said, “No, Mom, we’re on Kennard.” I reaffirmed our bearings, “The sign may say Kennard but we are on Wooster Pike; Rt. 3 is Wooster Pike.” My daughter argued with me about it…how I wished I could hear her argue after the crash.
I told her, “Look, Rachie, Daddy is turning around in the driveway of that house we looked at a couple of weeks ago.” But, we didn’t make it into the driveway, we ended up in the ditch just past that entrance. Without my seatbelt to restrain me, I flew up into the ceiling of the car breaking my back and I landed straddled in between the front and the back seat…
To Be Continued…